Thursday, July 29, 2010

"No One Told Me" Thursday

When you are pregnant women flock from what seems like the four corners of the Earth to tell you all the wonderful things to come, as well as some advise...whether it's wanted or not. Yet there are still so many things that happen when you deliver your first child that make you think - "why didn't anyone tell me this would happen???" So here I am, telling you every Thursday what you may not know or be prepared for. Today, lets talk about boobs.

No one told me....

Breastfeeding is lonely and hard. You hear it morning, noon, and night starting the second you realize there is a tiny being in your belly, "breast is best". Women, doctors, websites, and baby books sometimes go a bit overboard in pushing how wonderful it will be for both you and your baby, how natural it is, and how much easier it is than formula all in an effort to ensure that you keep your baby on the boob juice for as long as possible. Naturally, I thought it would be easy and maybe even fun. Then came Little Man.

I was so sure I would breastfeed for at least a year and when that little guy came out and attacked my mammaries with vigor I knew it was going to be a struggle. Your milk coming in is PAINFUL! Like full on, keel over pain. And what about the sharp stabbing pains for the first few weeks while your nips are getting used to the abuse of a baby sucking? I can't tell you how many times I cried. Before you ask, no it didn't hurt because he was latched on incorrectly. I had a lactation consultant look and said it is right, my breasts just need some "learning time" then the pain would subside. Plus I have a forceful letdown, meaning I spray like a fire hose. That is more of a pons-and-needles feeling that I can manage but it is uncomfortable at first. Don't even get me started on engorgement and clogged ducts. Childbirth is nothing compared to the pain of Mastitis (clogged ducts). I had that with each baby.

Don't let the pain scare you, though. I wanted to give up so badly that first month or so but I am so glad I stuck thru it. I was only able to feed Little man for just under 6 months (I had to quit due to milk issues) but I did treasure the time I spent cuddling him. He is a busy body and hates to cuddle so that was the only cuddle time I got. With Little Miss I'm going on four months with no end in site. It was still painful, and I still wanted to quit but it has been "easier" this time.

What I struggle with the most is the loneliness that comes with it. If you are like me and are very modest you want to ensure you don't show your ta-tas to the world, even if it is a natural thing. So I won't breastfeed in front of people without a cover. And even then it is difficult sometimes. Plus, my babies tend to feed close together (like every hour and a half) so I really can't go anywhere without kids. I can't go to the movies with my friends or just have an afternoon alone. Little Miss won't take bottles so that is especially difficult. And nighttime I feel overwhelmed at times because I am literally the only person who can satisfy her hunger and comfort her to sleep. The Hubbs gets to sleep all night and I have to get up as much as 6 times a night and it can be exhausting. I have cried many times. But I still do it out of love for them.

And for a lot of women (like the vast majority) you have to actually teach your baby to latch. Most don't do it naturally. This can be very frustrating and you may end up blaming yourself. It's not your fault! It's just that no-one told you it would be hard. And don't hate yourself if you decide to formula feed. Your baby will get all the nutrition they need and you may just save your sanity and marriage if things were getting really bad.

Now there are many, many benefits to breastfeeding. But you can read about those just about anywhere. Instead I will tell you how to ease the discomfort of clogged ducts of you are lucky like me and are plagued with these in the beginning. I don't know why it works, but it totally does.

Soak a wash cloth that is big enough to cover your breasts in hot water. Wring out the excess water and place it on your bare chest until the cloth starts to cool. Place a cooled piece of cleaned cabbage (yes cabbage) on the hard spot of your breast for 10 minutes or so. Then pump! Once you've pumped what you can, re-soak the towel in how water, wring out the water, and place it on your chest again until it starts to cool. Repeat the towel a few more times and pump one more time. You should be feeling a million times better at that point!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Wednesday Word

Have you heard the Jason Grey song "More Like Falling in Love"? I hear it on K-Love all the time, but this week I have actually started listening to the lyrics. I sing along with the songs all the time, but all too often I don't pay attention to what it is I'm singing about. The chorus just hit me.
"It's gotta be
more like falling in love
than something to believe in.
More like losing my heart
than pledging my allegiance"

When we fall in love (whether it is a husband, boyfriend, or even a new baby) what do we do? We tell everyone! It occupies our every thought and is a part of everything we do. We post endless pictures of this person on every website imaginable and tell our friends every little thing about this person. We just can't get enough! So why can't our faith be like that?

I have fears at times when expressing what I believe in. I always worry that I'll be viewed negatively or lose a friend (heck, even an acquaintance!). What I should be doing is shouting it from the rooftops in hope that others will fall in love with Christ as well and stand side-by-side with Him in Heaven.

So that is my goal - to try and fall back in full-on love with my Savior and not be afraid to tell everyone about him and how much he really does love us all. I need to get over these silly fears because, really, people won't hate you for what you believe. I greatly love people who have fundamentally different beliefs than I.

So let's fall in love with Him again. It's not something thats there to just "believe" in for the sake of believing in something and I need to stop treating it that way when I truly have faith. What about you? Will you join me?

Jeremiah 31:3 (New King James Version)

3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:

“ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Bible quote from BibleGateway.com

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Stroller Wars

I have found myself inadvertently on the quest for the perfect stroller for two kids under 2. I never imagined myself to be "that person" with a different stroller all the time, but I can honestly say that I have had (gasp) SIX strollers in the last TWO years. Okay, so let's break this down and see how it started and how it's ended (with a little review of each stroller).

Stroller 1: Evenflo Single Stroller $60
When I found out I was pregnant with Little Man I knew that I was going to be buying my own stroller (my parents
and my in-laws already had other gifts picked out) so I chose an Evenflo stroller that would accept the Evenflo hand-me-down car seat that I received from my father-in-law. It was inexpensive and it looked terrific. I can't remember the model name, but it was a beautiful beige with a checkered print on the hood. I actually got compliments on it! It cost about $60.00 on Amazon. It worked really well and stains came out of it easily. My car seat clicked in well and it strolled around isles with ease. It also had a nice parent console with a cup holder.

On the negative side, it didn't fold super compactly, the wheels squeaked no matter how much WD-40 was on it, and it seemed like the wheel was bent easily. It really served us well for his first year of life.

Where is it now? I gave it to my sister-in-law who is expecting her first baby. It still looks great and has a lot of life left.

Stroller 2: Jeep Overland Jogging Stroller $80 (after coupon and sale)
My husband is a public servant and his physical fitness is very important to ensure he stays safe on the job. So before Little Man was born my husband was absolutely, positively sure that he would want to go jogging with Little Man to stay in shape. Thus, we got this stroller. It was so comfortable for my boy (once his head was steady enough to be in it), it had a neat "Music on the Move" console that you could plug your mp3 player into for you and baby to listen to some nice tunes, and it glided beautifully over bumps and grass. Also, the fabric was very breathable and released stains easily with minimal effort. And how often did my husband take it jogging? Zero. He was "too tired" or it was "too late" so he never went jogging at all, let alone with the stroller.

So I took it upon myself to take it when we went to the Denver Zoo or on walks to the store for groceries. I ended up not using it as often as I would have liked because of the fixed wheel. While a necessity for jogging, just walking around with a fixed wheel is very cumbersome as I rarely just needed to go straight. I had to pick up the entire front end to turn the stroller. And this thing is not light. Also, it folded up largely because of the large wheels and was very heavy to get in and out of the car. It ended up taking up all of the trunk of my Jeep Liberty because we don't have a garage to store these things in.

Where is it now? When I found out I was pregnant with Little Miss I knew we'd need a double and put it up on CraigsList for $100. It sold immediately, praise God.

Target Umbrella Stroller $19
When visiting my Mom in Texas she had one of these little umbrella strollers and it was handy, especially compared to the hulk of a jogging stroller that we had at the time. So when we got home we decided to pick one up for quick trips (or any trip where I wanted to turn, really).

This stroller was a very cheap price and is just that; cheap. It is uncomfortable to push because the handles are so low down, the straps are incredible difficult to loose or tighten, one of the wheel breaks broke almost immediately.

However, it is small and takes up nearly zero space in our trunk, is easy to open and fold, and is comfortable for my son. So it ended up being a wash.

Where is it now? In our storage unit. My husband wants to hold onto it for travel or if our other stroller ever breaks. Plus, I couldn't, in good conscience, give this to anyone.

Graco Quattro Tour Duo $100
After selling the Jeep Jogger I immediately bought this stroller off of CraigsList for a great price (the exact amount I sold the jogger for!!). It was all I thought I wanted. It had comfortable seats, two cup/snack holders for each kid (and two for the adults, too), a one hand fold, automatic lock, large basket, and was relatively easy to turn. It actually folded quite small in comparison to other tandem strollers I tested in the stores. Quite a bit smaller, but it was still large and took up most of the trunk in my Jeep Liberty. However, when we traded in the Jeep for our Honda Odyssey minivan, it fit perfectly into the storage well behind the third row of seats with plenty of room for other things. I was only 2 months pregnant when I bought this - I was a bit excited for my second baby :) So we had about eight months of strolling my son around in this solo and I loved it. It held so much and it was so comfortable for my son. Plus, the handlebars were at a comfortable height to allow my husband to push it around. It was heavy, but I didn't have a problem getting it in and out of the car while 9+ months pregnant. What a relief that was! So, what could possibly be the problem? Why would I want to get rid of this wonderful stroller?

There are some negatives. The canopies aren't very large, they do shade adequately, but there are no pickaboo windows to see how the kids are doing. There are clear panels on the sides of the canopies, but you have to be next to them to see thru it. Also, there is a mesh "window" in the back canopy, but you still can't really see thru it clearly; you just see a figure. When Little Miss finally came and we put her in the stroller in her car seat (a Graco SafeSeat) it fit well, but Little Man couldn't recline when he was tired. Not a huge problem, but an inconvenience. Also right around this time my son decided that he did not want to ride in a stroller. He was a big 1 1/2 year old and he wanted to walk! That combined with Little Miss wanting to be held meant I was constantly pushing around an empty stroller with just a diaper bag in it. The breaks were also a bit difficult. You had to get them in the grooves just right in order of them to truly lock. The wheels squeaked a lot and was both frustrating and embarrassing. It was seriously louder than it needed to be. Even with all of that I loved this stroller and I believe it to be the best tandem out there.

Where is it now? Well, this is sad for me. I actually listened to my husband's complaints about Little Man always walking and the stroller taking up space so I sold it. I really thought that was what he wanted. I sold it on CL for $90. He then told me it was "just talk" and he didn't care what kind of stroller we have. I was very sad.

Joovy Caboose Sit and Stand $100
When my hubby was talking about my son always walking and daughter always wanting to be held I came to the natural conclusion of a sit-n-stand. I thought it would take up less room in the trunk while also providing two "seats" if either child decided to sit, and a fun standing platform for a wiggly toddler. This was a huge mistake. I exchanged a bunch of kids items at a consignment store for this new, last year's model stroller. So it didn't really cost me anything (thank The Lord) due to the exchange but I have found myself wishing I hadn't listened to my husbands complaints.

Let's start with the positives. It was a bright orange color that my Little Man loved (I let him pick it, there were 3 other colors there), and the one time he stood on the back he said "weeeeeee". It is relatively easy to steer and is much thinner than our tandem, so although it took up more space in our trunk lengthwise, it took up much less width wise. The canopy is also great. It is large and can easily be maneuvered to block any sun. It doesn't have a window, but it isn't really needed because it sits up to high off the seat that I can see the top of his head. Also the stroller itself is much smaller than most sit and stand types.

Now for the negatives. It has an infant car seat adapter that is easy to use, but if you do there is zero room for your older child to seat in the back "seat"; same thing if the front seat is reclined at all. It only has 2 seat positions for the front seat, straight up and slightly reclined, not enough to be comfortable for a sleepy child. The seat is hard and uncomfortable. The straps on both seats seem flimsy. It is very difficulty to get up on a curb due to the odd center of gravity on this thing. The tray table is useless, it's cup holder is very small and it is difficult to get a child in and out of it with it attached. My son finds the standing platform scary and only rode it once happily. The basket is practically non-existent and difficult to access. There are no cup holder for the adults. I cried a little after using it the first time and thought "What have I done!!!!". This was my only true regret of a stroller. Also, my son and daughter both decided they wanted to ride in a stroller shortly after selling the tandem and purchasing this. Of course, right?

Where is it now? In storage with the umbrella stroller. We decided to keep it to try again in a year and see if Little Man will be more inclined to ride like that and less scared. We'll see.

Bumbleride Indie Twin $225 (we ended up paying $0)
After doing a lot of research, looking at every review for every double stroller, and testing doubles in store, this stroller became my dream stroller. Barring a miracle lottery win there was no way I was going to be able to get this $700+ stroller. It just wasn't worth spending money we didn't have on my crazy stroller obsession. But I did find myself praying that one would just fall into my lap. I decided that a side-by-side stroller was right for us and this one would just be perfection. Lo and behold I was perusing CraigsList (as I do daily) looking for a double when I saw the most beautiful words I have ever seen on this site "Bumbleride Indie Twin--$225". Any high quality double stroller has been selling on there for $500+ even at a few years old. And those have been snatched up in a days time! The only problem? It was a town an hour away and my kids were napping. It could be taken before we even got them into the car.

So we called my mother-in-law who lives just north of this town. Luckily for us she was driving back from a gambling anniversary trip to the mountains and would be passing by that town at any moment. She was very kind in picking it up for us. We went to her work the next day and looked in awe at the stroller that is in nearly perfect condition. It was hardly used. I tried to pay her, but she wouldn't take it. I guess they won some money and gave it as a gift to us. Divine intervention for a stroller? I think all things are possible with God and you better believe I was saying my thank-you's to Him all day and night. Okay, on to the positives/negatives. Just for reference, this is the 2008 model that you can still find for sale online for $600, but is not currently made and Bumbleride has made many improvements to this stroller since then.

It maneuvers like a dream! I can push it one-handed and it turns on a dime. It can get up curves ,over grass, through rubble and I barely notice. It is beautiful with very high quality fabrics which are also comfortable and easy to remove stains on (there was a chocolate stain that I removed). It has HUGE shades with attached storage bags to hold all the mommy-daddy essentials. Plus, it has great pickaboo windows. Both kids seem very comfortable and like to be able to see each other, too. Also, the basket is very large and can fit a lot. It doesn't take up much more space than the Joovy in the trunk, but is still large. Also, it came with the foot muffs that now have to be purchased separately and will be wonderful for Colorado falls and winters. It also feels lighter than the Graco tandem stroller when pushing and storing.

Negatives, there had to be some! The HUGE canopies can't be maneuvered too far down so sometimes you cannot block the sun well. There are no cup holders for anyone. I put the Bumbleride snack pack on my Christmas wish list for the kids. Then they'll have a place for drinks and snacks. I still need to figure out the parent part. The fold is seriously a 3 step process which although easy, is a bit time consuming. Plus, it doesn't have a lock to keep the stroller together when folded (Bumbleride fixed this on the newer models). Other than that, it is everything I thought it would be!

Hopefully that ENDS my battle for the best stroller. My husband says it is over and we have won. Lord, I hope so!

What about you? Any stroller battles to share?

Introducing Myself

Hello to all of you out in the blog-o-sphere! I have decided to share some of my experiences with the hope that I will help people just like me; people who don't "have it all" and have to be careful in choosing what to have and people who want to have an honest, christian opinion on products and experiences. My family of 4 lives in a third floor condo in the great state of Colorado where living in an apartment/condo with a family is not so popular.

Honestly, I have struggled at times with not having what "everyone else has", especially when I began having children. Seeing pictures of other children exploring their backyard or in their own room that they don't have to share has turned me into the green-eyed monster at times. And haven't we all been there?
"Wouldn't life be better if I had what the Jones' have?"
Well, I've looked deeper into myself and prayed for my being grateful for what The Lord has already given me. I have a healthy family, we own our home, and I have the ability to stay home with my babies (even if it is a constant financial struggle).

This blog is more of a fun look at products we can all dream about, but don't "own" us. I would love to hear you opinions on products and suggestions, too!